Thursday, April 19, 2007

Thursday Talk Time - The Contemporary Hero

The Contemporary Hero :: Take Two Men

My name is Nell Dixon and I’m one of the authors shortlisted for the Romance Prize with my book, Marrying Max. I write contemporary romance for Samhain Publishing, Moonlit Romance, By Grace Publishing and The People’s Friend. Today I’m looking at contemporary heroes with the help of Mills and Boon author Jessica Hart and we’re interested to know what other people think makes a good hero.

A modern day hero can be many things, Alpha, Beta, Gamma, I’ve heard all kinds of descriptions. For me a contemporary hero has to be someone the reader, as well as the heroine, can fall in love with.

At first glance, my hero, Max in Marrying Max would seem to be what people might consider an Alpha hero. He is Mr Tall Dark and Handsome but although on the surface he would appear to fit the bill, the reality is quite different. A successful businessman with his life apparently all in order, Max carries scars from his childhood. He’s very protective of his sister and when her marriage hits difficulties he will do anything to shield his little niece from the fall-out. Yet this is the man who doesn’t ‘do’ families.

Thea, the heroine, is as opposite to Max as possible. In fact when he first meets Thea his instincts make him want to run from this wild haired, toe-ringed hippy and her strange, crumbling old house. For a man like Max, used to discipline and order, Thea, with her ‘wing it’ attitude to life is a nightmare.

Forced into a pretend engagement for Emily’s sake, Thea can see right through Max’s fears and shows him what real family life can actually be about. His natural warmth and kindness break through the tough guy veneer. Max proves to be wonderful with his niece. His qualities complete Thea’s needs and her desire for a happy family life with a man who loves her in spite of, or perhaps because of, her idiosyncrasies.

Jessica Hart, a previous winner of the Romance Prize, and shortlisted for this year, with Her Ready-Made Family, isn’t a fan of Alpha heroes either, although she admits that she has written one or two who fit that type. “In fiction, as in life, I have to say that I much prefer men like Alistair, the hero of Her Ready-Made Family, who isn’t tall, dark, handsome or rich,” she says. “I deliberately set out to reverse the stereotype of successful businessman meets country girl in this book. In Her Ready-Made Family, it’s Morgan, the heroine, who is financially successful (and now I come to think of it, she’s tall, dark and handsome, too, although I don’t think I was really aware of that when I was writing her!) and Alistair who worries about money. He’s a vet, and a single father and he wears scruffy clothes and drives a beaten up old car that his twin daughters find too embarrassing for words.”

Jessica thinks that creating a buzz between a heroine and a Beta hero can be more interesting than if the hero is too obviously gorgeous. “Morgan tries to dismiss Alistair when she first meets him, precisely because he doesn’t look like her idea of a hero. He’s very ordinary-looking, but she starts to notice tiny details about him and the more she gets to know him, the more attractive she finds him, until she can hardly keep her hands off him. I think it’s like this when you fall in love and realise that sexual chemistry has absolutely nothing to do with how a man looks, and everything to do with the kind of man he is.”

So it isn’t looks or financial status that make Alistair a hero, Jessica argues. “It’s his intelligence and his humour and his competence, and of course the fact that he is a good father. But most importantly, it’s the fact that he loves Morgan and offers her exactly what she needs – what we all need! – love and friendship and comfort and passion … and a family of her own.”

Her Ready-Made Family by Jessica Hart is published by Harlequin Mills and Boon.
Marrying Max by Nell Dixon was published by The People’s Friend Story Collection, Large Print by Linford Romance and will appear as an e book for Samhain Publishing in June 2007


  1. I wish we got The People's Friend in the US, I would have loved to read Nell's story (and Janet's, another PH member). I'm glad Samhain will be releasing Nell's Got to love e-pub, no worry about location! to heroes...I like mine with an alpha shell and a molten beta center. Kind of like...m&m's...

  2. Both heroes sound delish.
    I've read and enjoyed Alistair's story....I would love to track down 'Marrying Max.

    Fiona a more of a Beta hero kind of a gal :-)

  3. Knell, now I see why you were afraid you'd go "fangirl"! Jessica is a long time favorite of mine!

    *waving to both authors*


  4. Hi there

    I agree. All types of hero can be sexy from the really strong Alpha who's a nit dominant to the caring, guy next door. I don't mind. IAITE. I'd like to congratulate all the writers nominated for the Romance Prize. may you have a wonderful day and may your shoes be comfy!

  5. I agree with Jenna, alpha outside, beta inside. But nothing wrong with a good beta outside either! hehe

    And I have to say Max, is a very yummy hero! :)

  6. Interesting topic, ladies! Nell, I'm also a U.K Samhain author. :)

    When I think about it, although some of my heroes appear to be alpha intially, they also exhibit some beta qualities. I don't think I've written a book yet where the hero is pure alpha male.

    When is 'Marrying Max' due for release?


  7. Marrying Max is currently available in large print and will be released by Samhain on June 19th as an e book. Love the discussion on heroes, there are some great points.

  8. Did y'all hear? MARRYING MAX won!!

    Nell, do you have a link where we can order it in large print?